Growing Ginger in the Pacific Northwest
Terra Verde Garden Brings Fresh Spice to the Market

by nw farms and food  -  Permalink
December 29, 2010

Skuter and Amy Fontaine

Skuter and Amy Fontaine with fresh ginger they grew at Terra Verde Garden in Everson, Washington.

When you think about local foods, tropical ginger may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, on a recent October Saturday at the Bellingham Farmers Market, Sküter and Amy Fontaine of Terra Verde Garden were offering just that.

Looking for a way to bring new flavors to the market, the Fontaines decided to plant a test crop of ginger at their farm in Everson, Washington. Although ginger is native to the steamy tropics of Southeast Asia, it is also widely cultivated in hot and temperate regions around the world. The challenge of growing ginger in the Pacific Northwest is to provide a sheltered environment with sufficient warmth, filtered sunlight, humidity and moist, rich soil.

Cultivating Ginger

fresh ginger

Fresh ginger at the Bellingham Farmers Market

“Ginger does not like frost,” said Sküter Fontaine.

The Fontaines started their golden ginger “mother” rhizomes in February in an unheated greenhouse at the farm. They had little to guide them in their first growing season; as far as they knew, they might be the only farm north of Seattle growing this crop. Developing the right soil mix and watering frequency was important, as well as having the patience for a 9-month crop.

Over the summer, they watched as the ginger rhizomes sprouted and sent up bamboo-like stalks that grew to about three feet (one meter) high. By October, the plants had grown enough that Terra Verde was able to harvest its first ginger rhizomes for market.

For Cooking and for Health

ginger root

Ginger has many culinary and medicinal uses.

The ginger rhizome, or “root” as it is commonly (although inaccurately) called, has many wonderful culinary and medicinal uses. Long regarded as a digestive aid, anti-inflammatory and cold remedy, ginger’s use in medicine dates back to the writings of Confucius in China about 500 BC.

Cooks use chopped fresh ginger as a basic ingredient in Asian cuisine. It has many other culinary uses as well: steeped to make tea, pickled in vinegar, candied, crystallized, or ground into a powder to flavor cakes, cookies and gingerbread.

The Future

For Sküter and Amy, the work at Terra Verde is just beginning. “It will take one or two more years to refine our growing methods,” said Sküter. Meanwhile, the Fontaines have piqued the public’s appetite for local ginger. As quickly as they were able to display their fresh ginger at the Farmers Market, eager shoppers were buying it up.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. 2014 October 30
    Bob permalink

    bought a piece of fresh at grocery store and planted in southern exposure next to house .. whallla … about 18 inches high by end of october.

    • 2014 November 23
      Sheila permalink

      Just wanted to let you know that “whallla” is a French word, spelled “Voila”. And thanks for the heads up on the ginger propogation; I’m going to do it next year! I use quite a lot of it.

      • 2014 November 23
        Sheila permalink

        Oops! That would be “propagation”. My bad.

  2. 2014 May 2
    Nick permalink

    Where do we find rhizome to plant? We are on bainbridge island is there a northwest variety that does better than just trying to replant store bought chunks?
    Thanks!

  3. 2014 May 2
    Nick permalink

    Where do we find rhizome to plant? We are on bainbridge island is there a northwest variety that does better than just trying to replant store bought chunks?

  4. 2013 May 24
    Debi King permalink

    A few months ago, I purchased a chunk of ginger for a fresh grind everyone now and then in drinks, smoothies, salads, recipes…whatever. To my surprise, I noticed the little rhizome, now about 2″ long has a green horn growing out of it! So, I want to put this in a pot and let it do its thing. I am in Vancouver,Wa, and am suffering a very wet spring, so I’m thinking I’ll keep the pot in my greenhouse (unheated and open ended at this date in time) and just leave it alone. How big of a pot should I put it in? my soil mix is a 4x (compost, sandy loam, manure, and bark of some kind) is this a good fit? We are not experiencing warm days, so I know it won’t get too hot or dried out and one side has good filtered light. It can live there all through the summer. I do heat the greenhouse during the winter, and have a running water feature for moisture. What temp is good at night? My greenhouse is a great testing ground – happy to have one more member!

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